Several Workers’ Compensation Bills Pending Before the California Legislature

The year 2017 has just begun, and we have already seen the California Legislature consider several new workers’ compensation laws.

The following bills are currently pending before the California Legislature:

Assembly Bill 221 (AB221), introduced by Assembly Member Gray on January 25, 2017, would amend Labor Codes Sections 4600, 4903.1 and 5005 to limit the compensability of certain medical treatment for new claims of occupational disease or cumulative injury filed on or after January 1, 2018. Boehm & Associates has expressed its oppositions to the proposed changes to Assembly Member Gray’s office. This bill is currently in committee process.

Assembly Bill 1295 (AB1295), introduced by Assembly Member Chu on February 17, 2017, would amend Labor Code Section 4656. This proposed legislation would require the calculation of temporary disability payments toward the 104-week cap to exclude temporary disability paid or owed from the date of denial of treatment until it is authorized. This bill is currently pending referral.

Assembly Bill 570 (AB570), introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher on February 14, 2017, would amend Labor Code Section 4463 to prohibit apportionment of physical injury occurring on or after January 1, 2018 based on pregnancy, childbirth, or other medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. This bill is in committee process.

Assembly Bill 206 (AB206), introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher on January 23, 2017, would amend Labor Code Sections 3351 and 3352. Under this bill, Labor Code Section 3352 would be amended to broaden the definition of a household employee for workers’ compensation purposes by removing the exclusion of an employee who was employed, or was contracted to be employed, for less than 52 hours. Labor Code Section 3351 (d) would be amended to state that any person employed by the owner or occupant of a residential dwelling will be regarded as an employee “without regard to immigration status.” Currently, this bill is in committee process.

Assembly Bill 680 (AB680), introduced by Assembly Member McCarty on February 15, 2017, would amend Labor Code Section 77. This bill would require any study conducted or contracted for by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation to be the subject of a public hearing to discuss the purpose and design of the proposed study, the sources from which data will be obtained, and the proposed researcher or entity. The bill would require a majority vote of the commission to approve the study and the researcher or entity selected to perform the study. The bill would prohibit payment for a study in the event of noncompliance with these requirements. This bill is pending referral.

Assembly Bill 44 (AB44), introduced by Assembly Member Reyes on December 05, 2016, would amend Labor Code Section 4656 and add to Section 4610.7. This bill would exempt from the utilization review process and independent medical review the medical treatment for employees or first responders who sustain physical or psychological injury as result of terrorism or violence in the workplace. The provision would apply retroactively to the employees and the first responders injured in the San Bernardino terrorist attack of December 2, 2015. This bill would add terrorist attack and workplace violence injuries to the list of medical conditions for which aggregate temporary disability payments may be made for up to 240 weeks over the course of five years. This bill is currently in committee process.

Assembly Bill 553 (AB553), introduced by Assembly Member Daly on February 27, 2017, would amend Labor Code Section 139.48 with regard to return to work programs. Under AB553, the Division of Industrial Relations would be required annually to fully disburse the $120 million in allotted funds in the Return-To-Work Supplemental Benefit Fund originally established under SB863. The maximum payout per eligible worker would be $25,000.00. The bill is currently in committee process.

The California Legislature site can be used to follow updates on this legislation. Boehm will also keep you posted on future developments.